There’s been a recent boom in gardening, and Donna Gilson at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection attributes that popularity to both the weak economy and to the nation’s first lady. “It started, I think, with the recession when people needed to tighten their belts a little bit and then when Michelle Obama entered the White House.”
Last winter the state legislature passed a law making some exemptions to Wisconsin’s required license for the sale of home canned good. Gilson says the response after just one season of operating under temporary regulations has been great. She credits Michelle Obama for sparking an interest among the public. “When Mrs. Obama started pushing the gardening I think that added to the popularity of it and maybe to the glamour element to it, and there’s the whole buy local movement. It’s sort of a nexus of a lot of different factors playing into the phenomenon, I think.”
Earlier this week the Ag Department announced its schedule for 12 public hearings statewide to discuss the new “Pickle Bill” regulations. The measure allows home canners with annual sales of $5,000 or less to do so without a license. Gilson says in her time at the department she doesn’t ever recall having this many public hearings on just one topic. She says it’s important for residents to be able to participate in the discussions without having to drive too far.
Hearings are scheduled to be held in all corners of the state: Comments Due By Nov. 30
- Neillsville – Thursday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m.-noon, Clark County Courthouse, auditorium, 517 Court St.
- Viroqua – Friday, Nov. 12, 1-4 p.m., Vernon County Courthouse Annex, county board room, 400 Courthouse Square
- Altoona – Monday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Eau Claire County University of Wisconsin-Extension, 227 First St. W.
- Spooner – Tuesday, Nov. 16, 9 a.m.-noon, Spooner Agricultural Research Station, W6646 Hwy. 70
- Ashland – Wednesday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Northern Great Lakes Center, theater, 29270 County Hwy. G
- Rhinelander – Thursday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m.-noon, Oneida County UW-Extension, 3375 Airport Rd., #10
- Shawano – Friday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m.-noon, Shawano County Courthouse, 311 N. Main St.
- Fond du Lac – Monday, Nov. 22, 8:30-11:30 a.m., UW-Fond du Lac County, Administration/Extension Building, room AE 205/206, 400 University Drive
- Appleton – Monday, Nov. 22, 1-4 p.m., Outagamie County UW-Extension, room ABC, 3365 W. Brewster St.
- West Bend – Tuesday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m.-noon, Washington County Courthouse, room 1020, 432 E. Washington St.
- Jefferson – Tuesday, Nov. 23, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Jefferson County UW-Extension, room 8/9, 864 Collins Road
- Dodgeville – Wednesday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.-noon, Iowa County UW-Extension, conference room, 222 N. Iowa St.